If you follow your dentist’s instructions on how often to brush your teeth, then you brush your teeth about 720 times a year! By the age of 10, this equates to 7,200 times and by the age of 25, 18,000 times! At that rate, you should be a pro at brushing your teeth. Still, even pros can make the occasional mistake or two. To help you maintain pro toothbrushing status, here are some of the most common tooth brushing mistakes:
Brushing Too Hard
While you may think that scrubbing your teeth removes plaque and makes your teeth cleaner, all scrubbing actually does is damage your enamel and cause your gums to recede. Dental plaque is very soft and can be removed with gentle pressure. Additionally, when you scrub your teeth, you tend to move your toothbrush back and forth along the sides of your teeth. Instead it is far more beneficial to start at the gums and move up and down in circular motions while applying gentle pressure. Massaging your teeth in this way helps to remove plaque while also maintaining your tooth enamel and gum position.
Toothbrush is Too Hard
Just as you can brush too hard, you can also use a toothbrush that is too hard. Contrary to popular belief, toothbrushes with harder bristles do not remove more plaque or get your teeth any cleaner. They may, however, cause the same problems as brushing too hard. Instead, you will want to look for a soft-bristled toothbrush with the American Dental Association seal of approval. This seal lets you know the toothbrush has been approved for safe toothbrushing.
Toothbrush is Too Old
You should be going through about 4-5 toothbrushes a year. This is because the ADA also recommends replacing your old toothbrush every 3-4 months or after you’ve been sick. A good way to tell if your toothbrush needs replacing is to look for bristles that are bent, frayed, or discolored.
Another mistake many often make is that they rush through their brushing routine. Two minutes is not that long and it is all you need to brush your teeth effectively. However, cutting time off of this two minutes or skipping it altogether leaves plaque on your teeth that increases your risk of tooth decay.
Not only that, but when you rush to finish brushing your teeth you may miss some important places. In fact, many dentists note that their patients frequently forget to brush along the gum line and on the side of their teeth closest to the tongue. Forgetting to brush these places allows plaque to accumulate and eventually harden into tartar. When plaque accumulates along the gum line, this also causes the gums to be inflamed and can lead to gum disease.
Rinsing Your Mouth with Water
Once you are finished brushing your teeth and have spit out the excess toothpaste, you probably rinse your mouth water. However, it is actually better for your teeth if you do not rinse after brushing. This is because toothpaste contains fluoride, which strengthens the enamel and helps prevent tooth decay. The longer fluoride remains on your teeth, the better so you will want to avoid rinsing it off immediately after brushing.